Witnessing the private sorrow
The noise of war invades my mind. If I force myself to blot out all visual memories, if I compel myself to concentrate and listen to nothing but the sounds of war, then, like a blind man, I am submerged in an entirely different experience. The sounds buried in my memory are numerous: the rustling steps of combatants advancing quickly, the menacing drone of airplanes preparing to release their bombs, ear-shattering bombardments, rocket launchers, machine guns reloaded before a burst of gunfire, the bullets whizzing by, announcing that death is near, the heavy crunching sound of a slow, sad exodus through the snow
And the voices, the voices of war? They tear into your soul, leaving behind countless scars.
In the darkness of night, they recount the suffering of those we’ve met and whose stories we’ve heard: the cries of a hungry baby; the terse orders of a doctor trying to stave off death in his field hospital, the silence of a child who has witnessed the horrors of war, the desperate prayer of a woman who has lost everything…
I will never forgot that night in Dasht-e-Ghala it wasn’t loud. It was a murmur.
A moan evoking both the sorrowful plea and the soothing lullaby of a mother for her little one pierced the silent shadows.
In their humble home, the little sister was witnessing the heartbreaking scene.
The mother sat at the side of her son, holding him in her arms, gently caressing him.
Her only son, wounded in battle, had just breathed his last. He was only twenty years old. A few hours still lay ahead of them before their inevitable separation. All night long, she continued her plaintive monologue for him, just for him.
Text written by Rachel Deghati
Published in "War + Peace" (National Geographic Publishing, 2007)
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